not exactly the Mother’s day you may have wanted…

“Be a Mother who is committed to loving her children into standing on higher ground
than the environment surrounding them.
Mothers are endowed with a love that is unlike any other love on the face of the earth.”

Marjorie Hinckley

(the styling and profiling Mayor / Julie Cook / 2020)

(The ever smiling Sheriff / Julie Cook / 2020)

What does a Pandemic Mother’s day look like?

Well, I’m not certain.

I wasn’t certain what a Pandemic St. Partick’s day would look like.
Nor what a locked-down Pandemic Easter would look like.

I didn’t know what a 1st birthday would look like as we hunkered down inside…
Nor did I know what a festive Cinco de Mayo would be from home.

What I do know, however, is that we celebrated together none the less.
We lived through and did the best we could with what we had
and with what we could do…making the most of the simple and reserved.

And now I suppose this Mother’s Day will be much the same.

We will miss those who are not with us to celebrate just as we will mourn those who
have gone on ahead of us.
We will grieve for those who now grieve and rejoice with those who rejoice.

It has not been easy on you living here these past two and half months…
away from your own home, your comfort and familiarity, as well as that of
your own complete little family.

Yet we’ve each done the best we could do.

And so, on this Pandemic Mother’s Day,
I want to thank you for allowing me to share your children.

I want to thank you for allowing me to share in the day to day caregiving
and responsibility.
You have been gracious in allowing me to be that now missing and yet extra parent.

There are only three people in my life who I am related to by blood—
and you and I share those three people.

One of those three I have shared with you while you in turn have shared two with me…

And so I thank you for that.

Long ago, one of my own mother’s favorite folks was Erma Bombeck.

She was that folksy, common sense female author and journalist so endeared by
“the commmon woman.”
She was a woman who didn’t need hashtag movements, protests, marches or amendments to know that,
as a woman, she could and would make a difference in the lives of others…all the while, doing
so with a deeply rich and delicious humor.

She was self-deprecating in the best sense of the word.
She knew how to laugh at herself as she invited others to laugh as well.

At that particular time in our culture, Erma Bombeck was the sole spokeswoman
for the most underappreciated being on the planet…that being the mom…
and in particular, the stay at home mom.

My mom was a stay at home mom.

An often lonely and mostly underappreciated role.

She was a woman who did not have extra money like those of her working friends.
She was a woman who didn’t have fancy clothes or a nice car, or a super nice house.
She was a simple woman who probably would have enjoyed being complicated.
A woman who knew how to make $50 dollars a month feed a family of four
while sewing clothes for school.

A woman who knew what it meant to hurt and suffer as one of her children
battled mental illness.
A woman who bore cancer, and its eventual loss of life, without nary a complaint.

And so I share with you a tale by Erma Bombeck—a piece
about when God created mothers—-something my mom certainly understood
and something I think you may already understand.

Happy Mother’s Day to my daughter-in-law…

“When God Created Mothers”

When the Good Lord was creating mothers,
He was into His sixth day of “overtime” when the angel appeared and said.
“You’re doing a lot of fiddling around on this one.”

And God said, “Have you read the specs on this order?”
She has to be completely washable, but not plastic.
Have 180 moveable parts…all replaceable.
Run on black coffee and leftovers.
Have a lap that disappears when she stands up.
A kiss that can cure anything from a broken leg to a disappointed love affair.
And six pairs of hands.”

The angel shook her head slowly and said.
“Six pairs of hands….no way.”

It’s not the hands that are causing me problems,” God remarked,
“it’s the three pairs of eyes that mothers have to have.”

That’s on the standard model?” asked the angel.
God nodded.

One pair that sees through closed doors when she asks,
‘What are you kids doing in there?’ when she already knows.
Another here in the back of her head that sees what she shouldn’t but what she has to know,
and of course the ones here in front that can look at a child when he goofs up and say,
‘I understand and I love you’ without so much as uttering a word.”

God,” said the angel touching his sleeve gently,
“Get some rest tomorrow….”

I can’t,” said God, “I’m so close to creating something so close to myself.
Already I have one who heals herself when she is sick…
can feed a family of six on one pound of hamburger…
and can get a nine year old to stand under a shower.”

The angel circled the model of a mother very slowly. “It’s too soft,” she sighed.

But tough!” said God excitedly.
“You can imagine what this mother can do or endure.”

Can it think?”

Not only can it think, but it can reason and compromise,” said the Creator.

Finally, the angel bent over and ran her finger across the cheek.

There’s a leak,” she pronounced.
“I told You that You were trying to put too much into this model.”

It’s not a leak,” said the Lord,
“It’s a tear.”

What’s it for?”

It’s for joy, sadness, disappointment, pain, loneliness, and pride.”

You are a genius, ” said the angel.

Somberly, God said,
“I didn’t put it there.”
― Erma Bombeck, When God Created Mothers

Happy Day of Independence

“You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4,
not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House
in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees,
the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness.
You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.”

― Erma Bombeck

(my little lawn flag, it’s just a tad southern in its outlook / Julie Cook / 2017)

Here are a few thoughts to ponder this day of all things celebration as we recall the
countless acts of bravery and sacrifice offered so freely by those who have given so much
for each of us to enjoy not only this day but to savor our very way of life….

Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God.
Thomas Jefferson

“I always consider the settlement of America with reverence and wonder,
as the opening of a grand scene and design in providence,
for the illumination of the ignorant and the emancipation of the slavish part of
mankind all over the earth.”

John Adams

“The best thing to give to your enemy is forgiveness; to an opponent,
tolerance; to a friend, your heart; to your child, a good example;
to a father, deference; to your mother, conduct that will make her proud of you;
to yourself, respect;
to all others, charity.”

Benjamin Franklin

It is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God,
to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits,
and humbly to implore his protection and favors.

General George Washington

Bad men cannot make good citizens.
It is when a people forget God that tyrants forge their chains.
A vitiated state of morals, a corrupted public conscience, is incompatible with freedom.
No free government, or the blessings of liberty,
can be preserved to any people but by a firm adherence to justice,
moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue;
and by a frequent recurrence to fundamental principles.

Patrick Henry

God grants liberty only to those who love it,
and are always ready to guard it and defend it.

Daniel Webster

Using all of what I’m given

“When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me’.”
Erma Bombeck

(photograph: Tiger swallowtail butterfly, Julie’s carport/ 2013)

Ok, so you know how yesterday I used the image, or more aptly a silhouette, of a butterfly in order to address the thought of contrast? I was more than a bit fretful about going over to see my dad. Who knew what I’d find this week. Which thankfully was indeed a very nice visit—Praise Be!!!

Well… as I was loading up the car with some fresh picked veggies from the garden and some cupcakes for dad, dashing in and out of the house, in my perpetual state of hurry up to get going modus operandi, I saw this most beautiful butterfly sitting on the ledge in the carport. I stopped dead in my tracks. “What is the irony!!” I practically scream in my head. Just this morning I used an image of a butterfly (as I seem to have done a good bit lately) to relay my latest life’s saga—this being as if it is some sort of confirmation or ease of spirit… I see this little guy or gal resting, or more aptly dying, in my garage…and I’m thinking someone is trying to tell me something!

“Camera, where is the camera?!” (this is beginning to be a mantra of mine)

I snap a couple of shots, then gently scoop him/her up noting what seemed to be but a breath of remaining life– gently depositing him/her on a bush in the yard. A touch of nature as noted from yesterday’s post. Another butterfly as noted from today’s post……and a bit of clam resting on my shoulder before the drive over to Atalanta.

Which obviously go me thinking…….

The quote from above is by Erma Bombeck–a woman of my mom’s generation. My mom loved Erma. Erma made her laugh as she, Erma, wrote about things that my mom, as a mom who stayed home to raise kids, could relate to. I am glad Erma made her laugh and made her happy as mom lived a life that I have come to realize now in my “older” age was not exactly happy. (for starters you can read the post I wrote sometime back about my brother—Forgiveness, one step at a time).

Erma had a lovely practicality about her that she could turn into humor—thankfully so. She was real–a real person, just like me, like my mom, who struggled, made mistakes, owned up to the mistakes, was not perfect, nor glamorous—just real. A concept that is utterly refreshing in this oh so not real world our society seems to want to reside in….I admire the “real” people of our world—Erma was real and knew how to laugh at that realness.

This week is the week of pre-planning for our teachers. This week marks, officially, my first full year of retirement from school under my belt. Last year this week, I made certain I was occupied as I knew I’d be all over the emotional spinning wheel. Today, I thought about this as I was driving to Dad’s. I am not as sad or melancholy as I was this time last year but after teaching in the same system for 31 years, it’s not easy getting over the feeling of “I don’t need to be in this car driving but in my classroom working” mentality… yes, there was that feeling of guilt.

Here I was out in the world while they, my colleagues, were all back at school in countless meetings and in the near panic mode of not actually being in their classrooms working toward the most important and largely looming first day of school.

But strangely as it was, I was ok. I was doing what I retired for, that being Dad…being flexible to go when needed, or just go because I wanted to. That I had 31 years into retirement so that I could retire at 53 has been fortunate. I didn’t always think that a good thing when I was trying to juggle motherhood with teaching—never being very good at either as one or the other was bound to suffer along the way—but there’s not much I can now do about that water under the ol bridge now….just pray my son continues to grow into the wonderful man he’s becoming each and every day despite sharing mom his entire growing up.

So as Erma desired to proclaim upon her judgement day, I too hope to be able to one day do the same—proclaiming that I used everything God had given me…..its just I feel I still have a good bit of work yet to do!!!!